Code of Practice for Criminal Legal Assistance

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017

A final draft of an updated Code of Practice for Criminal Legal Assistance has been submitted to Ministers for consideration and approval.

Ministers asked us to review the Code as it has been in place for nearly twenty years.

We consulted earlier this year on a draft revised Code and received 42 responses which raised a number of concerns about various aspects of the Code. As a result, we have revisited the draft Code and made some very significant changes.

We discussed some of these possible changes at our series of engagement events during July and August, where the shift in tone and approach was welcomed and some further useful comments were made.

We recently discussed the revised version of the Code with the Law Society of Scotland, who recognised that substantial amendments had been made.

We are delighted that the profession engaged in this consultation process, with the result that we believe we now have a Code that delivers what we set out to achieve while responding to both the constructive comments and concerns expressed by solicitors.

Section 25B(4) and (8) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 now requires us to submit the draft Code to Ministers for consideration and approval.

In terms of the Act, if the draft is approved Ministers will advise us of the date when the new version of the Code of Practice is to come into force.

This will probably be timed so that it is in force on or before the implementation date for Part 1 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016, which is currently understood to be late January 2018.

The draft Code of Practice as submitted to Ministers for approval is available here. We are publishing it at this stage so that solicitors can see the kinds of changes we have made.

Solicitors should bear in mind that this version of the Code has not been approved, and if Ministers do approve it they may still require modifications.

We will be preparing a range of supporting guidance and materials to accompany the new Code if approved, and aim to publish this well in advance of any coming into force date.

For more information, please contact: Ian Dickson, Principal Legal Adviser,

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